Eurovision 2015 – Rory’s Review!

Hey guys! So…that was pretty stressful, wasn’t it?! After one of the closest voting sequences we’ve seen in quite a long time, it’s now official – we’re heading back to Sweden next year for Edition No. 61 of Europe’s favourite TV show..am I surprised? Not at all. Am I happy about it? Well…have a scroll down and you’ll find out!

So, as we all know, the 60th edition of Eurovision descended on the Austrian capital for the diamond jubilee of Europe’s favourite TV show, and it’s fair to say that it did have a few problems, but it also had some amazing highlights! In the run-up to the Contest, it really was a sure bet that Sweden was going to win the whole show, but it was an open field on who would be his runner-up, so I was keeping my fingers crossed for few countries – but I’ll get to them in their respective semi-finals. ORF did put on three very well-produced shows, and it was a good way to celebrate the Contest’s 60 years of existence. However, I do feel like the hosts weren’t the right ones to be chosen. No offence to Mirjam, Arabella and Alice, but there was just a lack of chemistry between the three of them. Honestly, the one host that did the best job was Conchita..Anyway, let’s just move on to the semi-finals!

The FIRST Semi-Final

As you all know, sixteen countries took part in the first semi-final, and while some shone bright like a diamond, others crashed and burned leaving “Black Smoke” (see what I did there?! 😉 ). Well, first off was Moldova, which was a very anti-climactic start to the show and it’s fair to say that seeing male dancers in tight police uniforms is nothing I want to see anytime soon. Other ones that really didn’t get my motor running on Tuesday were Armenia, Finland, FYR Macedonia, Denmark and Albania. Armenia’s live performance was fairly incongruous in the way the vocals were spread out, plus I did feel like Inga had a stronger influence on the song and other singers like Essaï and Vahe were pretty overshadowed by her vocals. Finland – just no. FYR Macedonia – seriously, what is the point in sending a ethnically pop song that was great like “Lisja Esenski”, only to turn it into generic pop and have a white guy and his black possé for staging – sorry Daniel, but you ruined the staging…and you couldn’t sing. Denmark was okay, but I knew it wasn’t going to get anywhere – they literally did what I told them not to do – just stay on the stage and don’t move. They were doomed right from the start – a little bit like the first like of Elhaida Dani’s song for Albania! Dear me, how that was able to qualify is beyond me..Elhaida, I know your vocal capability is so much stronger, so why have such wobbly and limited vocals like that?! At least you hit the high note – so that’s one (and pretty much the only) plus.

Loic was the standout performance for me!
Loic was the standout performance for me!

In terms of the ones who really did stand out and make an impression – just have to say.. BELGIUM, YOU BABE!!! I was a fan of “Rhythm Inside” since the moment it was picked, so to see it get such a huge reception is really refreshing to see and once again, it shows that more alternative songs are being sent to an ever-changing Contest! Others that really stood out were the Netherlands, Russia, Georgia and Serbia. Okay, so Trijntje got rid of the dress that caused so much of a stir (only to have it worn by Edsilia Rombley while giving out the Dutch votes), but her new dress (an assortment of bin bags, as it was so delicately put) and her rather plain staging was what brought her down – her vocals were fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but you need the whole package here. Russia was stunning – I’m not gonna lie. Polina had a fantastic live performance and you could tell that almost within the first couple seconds of the performance. Rather ironic with all the pride flags though!! Georgia really did kill it onstage too, with Nina Sublatti acting like a true warrior – sass included. The night did belong to Bojana from Serbia, who with no doubt gave the performance that everyone loved. The crowd was going crazy, the staging was a little odd, but once we got to the second half of the song, that didn’t matter. You could also tell Bojana was loving every single second of it, so it was pretty obvious that was going to qualify. Overall, I predicted seven countries correctly who would proceed to the Grand Final, which really isn’t that bad, but I have to say it was a good kick off to the show!

The SECOND Semi-Final

 Coming up to the second semi-final, I have to say that this semi-final was a lot more interesting to Eurovision fans like you and me who like to analyse every little detail of the show. But I was also really looking forward to this semi-final as songs such as Latvia, Portugal and Poland. And by god, didn’t they deliver!! Latvia was the dark horse of the semi-final (and as it turns out, the whole show!), and Aminata’s vocals, coupled with the trip-hop, almost Amazonian beats – it was always going to hit the spot with me. I wasn’t a big fan of Portugal‘s updated studio version of “Há um mar que nos separa”, but Leonor’s live vocals improved so much since Festival da Canção, and for that I’m so happy for her…too bad, she only came in 14th place, but hey she beat San Marino, so that must have been an achievement! And as for Poland – seriously, this girl is fantastic. I’m so proud for Monika – to have the confidence to sing while archives of her performing before her tragic accident, it takes a lot of guts. And her vocals were very sweet and emotional – you could tell she was believing in every word she was singing. Seriously, they shone as bright as Verka Serduchka’s outfit in front of the sun!

Aminata from Latvia proved to be the dark horse!
Aminata from Latvia proved to be the dark horse!

On the other hands, people who I really didn’t warm to on Thursday….hmm….I have to say there were a couple, but not too many, as quite a lot of artists had fantastic vocals – which made Europe’s job even harder! Slovenia for me was quite underwhelming – and although myself and my mother vigorously air-violined on both nights, the staging was just a little too….simple – and no offence, but Marjetka’s vocals were starting to annoy my ears, which isn’t the best thing to be doing to potential voters! Iceland – now, María, you have fantastic vocals and with the timidness of a young 22-year old, so why would you ruin it on such wobbly vocals!? The rehearsals, María – REMEMBER THE REHEARSALS!!!! *sigh* Okay Rory, you have to breathe……*sigh* And really, San Marino, but no offence to Michele and Anita, but to be perfectly honest – they really didn’t stand a chance, did they? In terms of predictions, I once again only got seven of the ten right, but to correctly predict seven countries to get through is a feat in itself, no?

The GRAND FINAL

 So, with the biggest night of the year coming up, it’s fair to say that my favourites had changed considerably as the two semi-finals passed. So I was going into Saturday’s show with a new look on things and open to seeing the changes they possibly would have made to their performances….there was none. So, what can I say about the final? Well, first things first, Slovenia should NOT have opened up the show. It was not the best choice – people judge on the first listen and if Maraaya were allocated somewhere closer to Mørland and Debrah Scarlett, they would have stood out a bit more than they did on the night…the United Kingdom was just goddamn awful, as per. I really feel Lithuania might have ruined their chances by having the prolonged kiss and the improvised “If there’s any love here, raise your hands in the air!”…like, this really didn’t give the best impression, but the vocals were on point, I have to say!

Ann Sophie really has taken the
Ann Sophie really has taken the “nul points” thing REALLY lightly!

However, those who really did fail to impress me had to be the top 3 this year – Sweden, Russia and Italy. I’ll get to Sweden in a bit, but Russia and Italy really didn’t get me on the night of the final. Russia offered as ever vocally, but I just wasn’t getting the same aura as I was back on Tuesday. One thing I have to say though – Germany did not deserve the dreaded “nul points” that it received. Okay, there was a lot of ass, sass and asymmetrical jewellery, but she still gave a very deserving performance! Plus the fact that she was sick on the night of the show – it really does make you think what they feed the Germans at the Contest; that’s twice now in the past three years. The voting sequence was rather flawed this year too, but once again – I’ll get to that in a little bit. But yes, after it all, MÃ¥ns Zelmerlöw walked away with the trophy and as a result, we are now off to Sweden next year!

An Overall Review

First of all, I wanna say that the quality of this year’s songs has been really strong – normally, I don’t like a good deal of the songs, but this year, there was really only about five or six songs that didn’t take my fancy – so in a way, fair play to each and every country that has upped its game in terms of song quality (except for you Finland – you blew your chance!). Secondly, although ORF put on a very good show, it was riddled with problems; in the semi-finals, they were really not working within the time constraints (i.e. racing through the qualifiers in the first semi-final, cutting the Makemakes off mid-sentence in the second semi-final.), while in the Final, the voting sequence was pretty much flailing all over the place. I mean, to lose one country during the voting process is okay, but THREE?! Why didn’t you ensure such connections wouldn’t be interrupted in the live shows? It might be helpful to check it like that, no? At least Suzy’s can-do-attitude made up for it. And also, I have to say that the use of canned applause during the entire show was not very good at all. I know it was to make it sound like more people were in the arena at the time, but if you wanted to accomplish that task, why didn’t you just host it in a bigger venue? It frustrated me to know that the majority of that applause wasn’t genuine, and in a way I feel like ORF has cheated us…but that’s enough of that for the minute.

To get to the more important part – the results. Just so you know, I’m going to be totally honest here and say that like James last year, I am not happy MÃ¥ns won Eurovision this year. It’s not because of the whole shit that he was dubbed a homophobe and things like that – he’s made it clear it was “lost in translation” and that he would date a guy. The reason why I’m not happy is that he won because of his staging. I’m pretty sure that had he left his little fat stick man at home in Sweden, the song wouldn’t have done as well as it did and had the rest of the voting gone as it had, we’d be off to Moscow for Eurovision 2016. As well as that, I feel like the song is so contrived and factory-made… like, it was made just that it could have entered Melodifestivalen. Don’t get me wrong he has great vocals – it’s the song that has me shaking my head so ferociously. No doubt he’ll top the charts all over the place, even though the song is just…soulless, in my opinion. However, I will back him in the row over juries and the public vote. So what if Italy came first in the televote? If he won, he won fair and square – even though I’d have much preferred that we’d be off to Belgium next year, but myeh – you win some, you lose some.

Moving on from Sweden, I’m happy that Italy managed to get it’s best result in the Contest since its return in 2011 – the vocals from Italy’s answer to the Jonas Brothers were pitch perfect. I’m absolutely overjoyed and so proud of Loïc and for Belgium, who really did deserve to come fourth – now they have earned Belgium’s best placing since 2010, will this be another way of spurring VRT to continue the greatness from the country? We’ll have to wait and see. I’m very happy for Guy Sebastian and his placing of fifth! Normally a new country isn’t as well received by voters as Australia was, but they struck it lucky and they are now on the brink of becoming permanent members of the Eurovision…something I can tell some Eurofans are going to love. Estonia coming 7th was something I wasn’t expecting, but a top 10 placing is good for any country! At the other end of the spectrum, I’m not really surprised about Austria and the UK did terrible, but I’m absolutely shocked at France and Germany doing so bad! We’ve already spoken about Germany, but France’s staging and Lisa’s vocals were spot on, but perhaps people just didn’t warm to the whole Paris post-WWII feeling. And will someone please tell me how Albania and Armenia managed to do so well on the scoreboard when both had absolutely DIRE performances – no offence Elhaida, but your vocals were off so much, you’re as well to be performing with Daniel Kajmakoski! And Genealogy was just wrong full stop. However, the one country I wanted to talk about was Latvia. I have absolutely loved seeing Latvia get passed off as a non-qualifier because of its alternation, but then manage not just to qualify from the semi-final but to finish WITHIN the top 10!! People might think she had a different song, but people I have to say – Aminata killed it no matter what you say!!

So, now with the Eurovision 2015 season officially over, what do we do with ourselves? Well, if you stay tuned to ESC Views over the off-season, we’ll be doing what we normally do; look at “What If..” and “Would It Work..” articles, do Album Reviews from this year’s contestants, look at Possible Artists for other countries, Focus on the other various cities in the running to host Eurovision and as always, do a Top 10 for the various things from this year’s show! And as we edge closer to Eurovision 2016, with seventeen countries already confirmed for the upcoming show (including beloved countries such as Turkey and Ukraine!), PED won’t come over you here!! 😀 So what do you think of my review of Eurovision 2015? Did you dis/agree with anything I had to say? Who was your favourite on Saturday? And who do you think will be taking to the stage in Sweden a year from now? Feel free to let me know what you think by commenting below!

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